Although it wasn't my intention when I started, I seem to have subconsciously (unconsciously?) decided to challenge myself by completing all the assignments for my photography course with manual* settings. I used manual settings the first week simply because I was frustrated by the yellowish tinge and grainy photos I was getting indoors on auto. I was happy with they way the images turned out (although, as I mentioned last week, still some graininess to improve on) and so decided to give myself a little refresher course on the basics on manual photography. (The course I'm doing has technical aspects but is more about - as the title suggests - 'collecting the moments' with strong, emotive, inspirational images. They have another course specialising in manual photography - I'm thinking I'll do that one next). It's been a while since I've had to sit down and really concentrate on learning something. It's harder than I remember.
As very much an amateur, it takes me a little while to think about how the manual settings should be set or tweaked to get the picture I want. So it's generally snap, review, a moment as I think about how to change the settings, then change the settings, snap again. Of course, the most difficult thing when photographing children is having the time to do all this while they are still doing whatever you wanted them to do. I took H out to the park on Saturday afternoon and he had lots of fun splashing about in the puddles which was great as it gave me enough time to play around with the manual settings while he was otherwise occupied. I was really happy with the images I got (like the one above). H, at 2, is also a much easier subject than his brother. M, at 4, moves much faster and is far, far less compliant. But happily I did manage to get some good photos of M this week too. I think having the camera out constantly helps - it takes more energy to do something silly than simply sit there and allow yourself to be photographed.
Of course it doesn't always go to plan. We went to the playground on Monday where I hoped to get some more pictures and just as I got out my camera, H fell in a puddle and we had to go home. The perils of working with children.
PS. If you're interested, I found these articles on the basics of manual photography very helpful - Master Your DSLR Camera, Part 2: Manual Mode and More and Understanding ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture – A Beginner’s Guide.
*To clarify - some manual settings - mostly on Av which isn't fully manual...see, learning new things all the time!